Members of Main Line Reform Temple, Adath Israel and Beth David Reform Congregation gathered at Wynnewood's Main Line Reform Temple on Monday evening to observe Yom Hashoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day.
Holocaust Remembrance Day memorializes those who died during the genocide, and also commemorates the resisters. “We come to this service to remember,” said Rabbi David Straus of the Main Line Reform Temple. “We come to recall these events again and again so they cannot be forgotten.”
The service, sponsored by Main Line Reform Temple and Kehillah of Lower Merion, began with songs and readings by rabbis and cantors from each synagogue, and featured a lecture by world-renowned Holocaust historian Michael Berenbaum, the Director of the Sigi Ziering Center for the Study of Holocaust and Ethics.
“Berenbaum helps us remember to keep the message of the Holocaust ever fresh in an ever-changing world,” Straus said.
Berenbaum spoke on “Remembering the Holocaust in an Age of Genocide."
“I don’t use the word 'tragedy' when talking about the Holocaust,” Berenbaum began. “I use the word 'atrocity.' Tragedy assumes a balance between what is lost and what is gained; here, we try to seek something from the ashes to make this not a total loss.”
What is to be learned from the genocide, Berenbaum said, is that there is such a thing as a crime against humanity; that our leaders must abide not only by secular law, but also moral law, and that they must be held responsible for all that they do.
We, too, must not sit passively by when we see genocide and destruction in the world, Berenbaum said.
“It’s not enough that we are conscientious; it’s not enough to inform. We must spur to a deep action,” Berenbaum urged. “What it means to be Jews in this age is to testify to the possibility of hope, testify to the reality of evil, but never give evil the final say.”
The Girard Academic Music Program Concert Choir and the Main Line Reform Temple Combined Choirs performed pieces that grieved the loss of Jewish lives and culture, and others that testified to a continued sense of hope and belief in humanity.
The service ended with a lighting of candles for the six million Jews killed in the Holocaust. Family members of survivors and martyrs lit the memorial candles and recited the Kaddish, along with other attenders.
A family of Holocaust survivors—three sisters—also spoke.
"We are survivors. We are the remnants. We stand here as if in defiance of Hitler … but our real triumph is we stand here with our children, our grandchildren: the legacy our grandmother died for.”